Lebron James dropped 61 points on the Charlotte Hornets last night, going 8 for 8 from the 3-point line and proving why he’s a near shoo in to repeat as MVP.
When LeBron is hitting his jump shots, he becomes the most unfair player on the planet. We know this. What’s frustrating is that sometimes he’ll hit his jump shots and take only like 16. He can still score 25 a game that way — and average something like 10 boards and six assists, and dominate on defense — and get his teammates involved, and it all makes him the best player in the league. But it’s not as fun. There are so many times you watch LeBron and it looks like he can do whatever he wants on the floor, only it almost never translates as scorched-earth scoring.
What he said. Kevin Durant is a superstar who’s had a very nice run the last couple of months, but when Lebron ups his level of play as he did last night, he does stuff like this:
LeBron James’ eighth 3-pointer splashed through the net about 30 feet away from where the reigning MVP stood, which was just a few feet in front of Miami Heat owner Micky Arison, who watched from his normal courtside spot at halfcourt.
Once the nylon snapped in the air, James turned his head and roared through a plastic mask toward the incredulous AmericanAirlines Arena crowd as he trotted back on defense. James had taken eight 3s at that point and all had gone in. None had even grazed the rim.
The game clock ticked down from 1:19 … 1:18 … 1:17 remaining.
In the third quarter.
James had 49 even before the fourth quarter began.
“When that one went in, I knew,” James said, “I was in a really, really good groove.”
James wasn’t done. He opened the fourth quarter with a swooping layup past three helpless Charlotte Bobcats defenders. Fifty-one, his first 50-point game of his career in front of his home crowd. Nine 50-plus in his 11-year career, all previously on the road.
That’s when the Bobcats started sending double teams on James before he even crossed halfcourt.
“First time it happened to me probably since high school,” James said of the radical coverage.
No matter. Pull-up jumper from 20 feet. Fifty-three. Another layup, this time cutting off the ball to the rim. Fifty-five. Isolation from the top of the key, dribble right, spin past two Bobcats, lay it up off-balance, glass. Fifty-seven. Career-high, franchise record. More. This time, a high pick-and-roll, past one defender, split three more, fading jumper, glass. Fifty-nine.
Double-team off the catch in the left corner, curl past off the dribble to the right, bump into a sliding third defender, over a fourth, whistle. Two free throws: sixty and sixty-one.
“It felt like I had a golf ball, throwing it in the ocean,” James said.
All told: A career-high, franchise-record 61 points on 22-of-33 shooting, one shy of Carmelo Anthony’s 62 points against Charlotte on Jan. 24.
Amazing. Being from Chicago, I’m often asked to compare Lebron to Michael Jordan. It’s useless. They are two entirely different players, playing in entirely different systems. Michael has it over Lebron in pure athleticism while Lebron is stronger and faster. I give the edge to Lebron as a pure shooter. Give the nod to Michael when it comes to creativity. Both players are equally fabulous in getting the ball to the basket.
Both players had to learn how to make their teammates better. Both had to push themselves to become all-NBA defensive players. Does it matter who was better? They’re both a joy to watch.